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Capital District Wildlife Management Area


Capital District WMA Locator Map

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Capital District Wildlife Management Area (WMA) The primary purposes of the Capital District WMA is for wildlife management, wildlife habitat management, and wildlife-dependent recreation. This WMA is a 4,153 acre parcel acquired from 1928 to 1941 for use as a game management area and game refuge. Prior to acquisition, the main human activities on the area had been subsistence farming and charcoal burning. During the 1930's and 40's a Civilian Conservation Corps Camp was operated at the WMA and many projects, including the dam for the Black River Pond and the roads on the management area were completed. The WMA was used as a stocking site during the beaver reintroduction program of the 1930's, and in 1944 the refuge designation was dropped, and the entire area became a wildlife management area. The Capital District WMA is situated at the southern end of a geologic feature known as the Rensselaer Plateau and is covered with semi-mature to mature stands of black cherry, sugar maple, yellow birch, hemlock, red oak, and red spruce. Black spruce, tamarack and balsam fir occur in the characteristic bog-like wetlands on the area. The topography is quite flat except on the eastern edge which drops into the Kinderhook Creek valley.

Pond at the Capital District Wildlife Management Area

Featured Activities

Capital District Wildlife Management Area is located in Wildlife Management Unit 4L. (View hunting seasons and trapping seasons)

Capital District WMA is open to fishing. Please visit DEC's website for more information about fishing.

Wildlife Viewing
Wildlife on the area are typical of forests and forest edge habitats. Recently, moose have entered Rensselaer County from neighboring states and moose now reside on the WMA. Moose sign, such as young striped maple stripped of bark, tracks, and piles of scat is very common throughout the WMA and moose are regularly seen. Use the Wildlife Management Area Mammal Checklist (PDF 453 KB) and the Wildlife Management Area Bird Checklist (PDF 240 KB) as a wildlife viewing guides.

Capital District Brown Sign


Located in the Towns of Stephentown and Berlin in Rensselaer County, there are seven miles of public truck trails with several small parking areas and numerous pull offs throughout the road network. Additional public access to the interior of the WMA is provided by nine miles of multiple use trails. Cherry Plain State Park, nestled within the WMA, is managed by the Office of Parks Recreation and Historic Preservations.

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Rules, Regulations and Outdoor Safety

Forest at Capital District Wildlife Management Area

Activity Rules & Regulations

The following activities are not permitted in Capital District WMA:

  • Using motorized vehicles, including:
    • all-terrain vehicles
    • motorboats
  • Swimming
  • Camping
  • Using metal detectors, searching for or removing historic or cultural artifacts without a permit
  • Damaging or removing gates, fences, signs or other property
  • Overnight storage of boats
  • Cutting, removing or damaging living vegetation
  • Construction of permanent blinds or other structures such as tree stands
  • Littering
  • Storage of personal property
  • The use of snowmobiles is prohibited except as specifically permitted by posted notice (see map for details).

Outdoor Safety Tips

NOTE: Ticks are active whenever temperatures are above freezing but especially so in the late spring and early fall. Deer ticks can transmit Lyme and several other diseases. More information on deer ticks and Lyme disease can be obtained from the NYS Department of Health. (Leaves DEC Website) Also, practice Leave No Trace (Leaves DEC website) principles when recreating on state land to enjoy the outdoors responsibly; minimize impact on the natural resources and avoid conflicts.

How We Manage

wildlife restoration logo

Like most of the state's Wildlife Management Areas, Capital District WMA is managed by DEC's Division of Fish and Wildlife for wildlife conservation and wildlife-associated recreation (hunting, trapping, wildlife viewing/photography). Funding to maintain and manage this site is provided by the Federal Aid in Wildlife Restoration or "Pittman-Robertson" Act, which is acquired through excise taxes on sporting arms, ammunition and archery equipment.

Habitat management is accomplished primarily through commercial timber harvests that are used to increase habitat diversity by creating various kinds of forest canopy openings. Recent timber harvests have been aimed at improving snowshoe hare habitat. Other planned timber harvests will be used to create a patchwork of different stages of early successional habitat that will benefit a variety of species. Other routine management actions included mowing to maintain grassy openings and apple tree maintenance. Thirteen miles of town roads and state truck trails provide access to the area and a network of foot trails continues to be developed. Capital District WMA is managed for non-intensive recreation consistent with its wildlife management function. Those seeking more intensive day use areas should visit the nearby Cherry Plain and Grafton Lakes State Parks.

Tourism Information for Nearby Attractions, Amenities & Activities

Numerous guide books and maps are available with information on the lands, waters, trails and other recreational facilities in this area. These can be purchased at most outdoor equipment retailers, bookstores, and on-line booksellers.

Web links below can provide information about other recreation, attractions and amenities in this area.